The head of the Church of England has spoken out about his concern for the country’s direction, saying that tolerance for minority groups has decreased and homelessness has increased.
The Archbishop of Canterbury used his annual Christmas message, shared with Monday’s The Big Issue, to reflect on the state of the vulnerable people in the UK, which he says has worsened over the last nine years.
He told readers that there are more food bank users, an increase in rough sleepers and a rise in what he calls “vitriolic language”, adding that people’s tolerance for minority groups has gone down.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “We have had an MP murdered. I am not saying we are in a crisis, I am just saying the direction of travel is not what we want.”
As well as talking about his concerns for the UK, he was also asked about the ongoing Prince Andrew controversy, and whether the Royal Family should have to adhere to higher morals than the general public.
“I think generally speaking they do serve in a way that is extraordinary in what is literally, for them, a life sentence,” he said.
“I think to ask that they be superhuman saints is not what we should do because nobody is like that.
He added: “Everybody makes mistakes, everybody is human. I am not commenting on any member of the Royal Family except to say that I am astonished at what a gift they are to this country.”
In the message, he also said that he met the Pope last week and they talked about God, praying and football.
Despite not knowing about Argentinian football, the archbishop revealed that he teased his holiness about it, saying: “We make jokes and laugh. It’s just a conversation.”
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Asked what his Christmas message for the country was, Mr Welby said: “Don’t fear. Deal with fear. In the New Testament, among the letters from John, it says ‘perfect love casts out fear’. So love, don’t fear.
“Because the kind of love that God shows is a love that doesn’t expect return. That forgives failure. That loves people despite their ups and downs.
“That kind of love changes the world in a dramatic and wonderful way.”
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